Employment Requirements for Post-Completion OPT
Employment during the Post-Completion OPT authorization period, in all cases, must:
- Be “directly related to the student’s major area of study.”
- Be “full-time” employment (20 hours or more per week)
Types of Employment Permitted During Post-Completion OPT
The following type of employment are permitted during Post-Completion OPT:
- Regular paid employment
- Work for hire or contract work
- Volunteer or unpaid work
Note for students with a 24-month STEM OPT Extension: your employer must be registered with E-Verify, your position must be paid, and the position must be full-time (20 hours a week or more).
Please be sure to visit our STEM OPT Extension Information Page, for more details the STEM OPT Extension.
OPT Eligibility FAQs
Q: Do I have to have a job to apply for OPT authorization?
A: No, there is no job requirement to apply for OPT authorization. You can apply for OPT without a confirmed job, or job offer.
Q: Does OPT authorize me to work in any field in the United States?
A: No, OPT only provides authorization for a graduate to work in their major field of study (listed on your Form I-20).
Q: Do I have to start working on the day listed on my EAD card (my first day of OPT authorization).
A: No, your OPT start date is the earliest day you are permitted to work, but are not obligated to start work on that day.
Q: Do I have to be employed during my OPT authorization period? What if I leave my job, or get fired?
A: Those holding OPT authorization are permitted no more than an aggregate of 90 days of unemployment (during the 12 months of authorization).
Q: Am I allowed to change employers or have multiple employers during my OPT authorization period?
A: Yes, those holding OPT authorization are permitted to change employers, and to be employed by multiple entities, as long as the employment meets the following criteria:
- Total hours of employment equals more than 20 hours per week
- Work conducted at each job is related to your major course of study
- Employment at each firm is reported to your International Student Advisor